I just added 20 years to my retired life without new meds, more doctor appointments or several servings of spinach.
This came about as simple as one, two, three — as in taking care of two of my grand princesses for around three hours last Monday in their one home in Washington. These granddaughters are better known as big sister Irie and little sis Isabella.
The experience proved exhilarating and tiring at the same time, but at least there was no after-taste of spinach.
You see dear readers, I underestimated or forgot just how energetic, quick and nimble a three-year-old and 14-month-old could be on their home turf. Throw in a heavily-laded trick-or-treat bag within easy reach of the oldest grand princess and you have the recipe for three hours of babysitting feeling more like one full day in my world of grand parenting.
It is a grandpa — Dida to all four of my granddaughters, by the way — effort I do with pleasure plus blood, sweat and tears.
Uh, I guess I should clear up a couple things about that last statement.
First, there was no blood involved during this tour of Dida duty, no calls required to 911. Sure, I sweat a little trying to keep up with Irie and Isabella, but believe me the tears were from joy and laughter.
Where does the extra 20 years being added to my retired life come in?
Apparently, you are unaware of the results released in 2017 from the comprehensive Berlin Aging Study, or BASE. The study tracked the health and social conditions of more than 500 participants ages 70 and older in Berlin between 1990 and 2009.
The research was made up of interviews and medical tests performed in two-year intervals and included a caregiving section in which test subjects described the frequency they cared for a grandchild without a parent present. The study found some encouraging news for old codgers such as me.
BASE claims grandparents who babysit or give some level of care to their grandchildren had lower risks of death over a 20-year period than older adults who did not take on caregiving roles of any kind.
In other words, taking care of your grand kids, even on an infrequent basis, can add 20 years to your life.
One of the researchers explained it as staying active and remaining socially engaged as you age. Your mind is stimulated during babysitting as well.
I firmly believe the key word in this scientific explanation is “active.” Irie and Isabella go well beyond the definition of that word and both most certainly take after their father, Adam, who somehow received an extra active gene or two at birth.
Irie served as the ringleader during this babysitting session to add years to my life by running between the living room to her bedroom in 3.2 seconds flat. I thought I could keep up with Irie but Isabella continuously wandered off to parts unknown in the home to keep me in a perpetual state of search and rescue.
Once I corralled Isabella, we caught up with Irie in her bedroom where, she insisted, we play a game of hide-and-seek. I don’t think Irie understands the finer points of the game since she demanded all three of us hide under the Minnie Mouse quilt on her bed, leaving no one to be the seeker.
The lack of someone to hunt us quickly turned hide-and-seek into yesterday’s news for Irie as she flipped the quilt off before leaping the six feet from her bed to the second level on her bookshelf. She grabbed four Berenstain Bears books and instantly started to read each page to Isabella and me.
We got to follow the cartoon bear family through harvest time, Halloween, Thanksgiving and a good day for a picnic. Uh, well, at least I think that’s what took place in the words coming from Irie’s mouth.
Maybe one day Irie will read and comprehend these books with ease but, on this day, she ad-libbed her way through each page like Jim Carrey in “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” I must admit, Irie taught me a few new words along the way and I might try them out some day in this very column.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not complaining but merely describing how a grandfather goes about adding years to his life when a three-year-old and 14-month-old are in charge of the situation.
We did take a few breaks when Irie and Isabella decided to return to the living room where the Disney Channel remained tuned in the whole time. These breaks, however, came in one- to two-minute intervals since the girls delighted in running back and forth between the living room and Irie’s bedroom.
Well, for Isabella it was more like meandering back and forth since she took me to just about every room in the house as part of the aforementioned search and rescue missions.
Now that I think about it, the two dozen or so Halloween treats Irie was able to grab and share with Isabella might have something to do with a couple of hyper-grand princesses. Even outside of Carroll Castle this is one Dida who just can’t say no to his grandchildren.
I suppose it doesn’t really matter because I got to add 20 years to my life so I can experience even more of these kinds of granddaughter adventures all without having to eat spinach.
Doug Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.